~ please see notes and disclaimers in Part I ~
Wesley lay in the infirmary bed, dazedly watching the movement around him. Several slayers, who also seemed to be very efficient nurses, checked his temperature and made measurements on charts. If the women weren’t obviously used to dealing with injured parties far more ill than he; he would’ve worried about their relative youth.
Willow reappeared with Mr. Giles in tow, both looking worried, although Giles’ eyes also held something indecipherable. Wesley shook his head again, not really comprehending where he was or how he’d gotten there. A few moments ago he was dying on the floor, Fred – NO – Illyria cradling him. From Willow’s hurried explanation, it was a month later and he was in England, in an old trade college that they’d purchased wholesale with Council funds, and everyone he’d known in Los Angeles was gone.
Wesley cleared his throat and looked to Giles, “Am I truly the only one left?”
The man looked grave as he replied, “I’m sorry Wesley, terribly sorry.” His response was the only confirmation Wesley needed. He felt his lips tighten and his body go taught. He sat up, tense and uncomfortable, and felt a pressing need to be away from Willow’s-too-understanding eyes. It was then the sheet slid down and he realized that was his only covering and he wasn’t going anywhere.
“And Wolfram & Hart? The Brotherhood of the Black Thorn?” He couldn’t help but ask.
Buffy took that moment to turn the corner, and answered the question she must’ve heard as she came down the hall. “They killed them all, Wes. Angel, Spike and the rest killed them all. There was nothing left for us to take down but a few stragglers by the time we got there. They died heroes.”
He closed his eyes again, trying to shut out everything they told him, but behind the fog that still cluttered his brain, he knew somewhere deep that their words were true.
One of the nurses interrupted, “Mister Wyndham-Pryce, thank you, we’re done now.” Willow turned to a cupboard and pulled out spare clothing, bringing it to Wesley’s side. He looked into her sympathetic face again, and it was all too much.
“May . . . may I have a moment?” he asked the room. They all nodded and cleared out. He sighed into the silence, and pulled on the clothes, wondering at men’s clothing in an infirmary for slayers, until he realized that Giles must keep some spares there for when he needed them. Everything felt . . . ill fitting. The clothes, the air, his skin; nothing felt right. Everyone he cared about was gone. . . gone into that black pit. . .and he was left here. Here, where something else was expected of him. Here, where they still fought the fight because they believed in it. That light shone in the faces of everyone who had greeted him since he’d found himself on the floor of the main building.
He didn’t know what he wanted, so he sat down on the edge of the infirmary bed and put his face in his hands. He didn’t want to think anymore. It was all too much.
A voice interrupted his thoughts, “You know, you still have friends.” Buffy stood in the doorway. He didn’t respond, but she took his silence as invitation and came to sit by him.
“I don’t know what to say to make the pain go away, Wes, but . . . we’d like to help. And, frankly, there’s a whole lot to help with if you’re willing. Also? Been back from the dead before, you want to talk about it?”
“Buffy, it’s very sweet of you to offer, but new friends won’t change the fact that everyone I knew—” his voice cut off at that. He couldn’t say it. Not yet. “How is it that the last time anyone from Los Angeles asked for your help, we were told in no uncertain terms you didn’t trust us? What changed?”
“Yeah, about that . . .” Buffy blushed and looked at her feet, “All I can say Andrew is an idiot that really likes to make up stories. He’s not allowed out of the building anymore. Everything he said? Completely untrue. The reason why no one else went was because we were all recovering from a hellmouth blasting wide open in Spain.”
“Ah. Well, that certainly makes a bit more sense. I had thought at the time that if you were that angry at Angel you might speak with him yourself. But Mr. Giles brushed him off as well.”
“Actually, he didn’t. I know this is a lot to deal with Wes, but something you guys in LA didn’t realize is that once you moved into Wolfram & Hart, you didn’t actually hear from us. You heard from Wolfram & Hart employees pretending to be us. Just like we didn’t hear from you, but from fake yous. I had whole conversations with Spike that I found out never happened! It was horrible: we didn’t even find out you guys were fighting until I had a stupid prophetic dream about it. God, you don’t know how much trouble those dreams have caused! But we got to LA so late . . .” She bowed her head next to him, and heaviness seemed to settle over them both.
After a moment, Buffy’s head came up. She hopped off the bed and moved to stand in front of him. Wesley raised his head to watch her and saw the grief in her eyes, grief that for a moment seemed to overwhelm him. She’d lost both Spike and Angel without ever being able to say goodbye . . .
She blinked, and through the grief he saw that steely glint of life that rose into her face. “But Wes? They wouldn’t want either of us to brood. Not this way. Because I know exactly where they all went, and it’s not somewhere that requires grief.”
Some of her spark seeped into him, making him sit up straighter. “No, you’re right. They are not somewhere that requires grief. Which begs the question, why am I not with them?”
She smiled at that, a smile full of mischief. “Well, I’m not totally certain, but I had this dream . . .”
continued in Part III